Last Wednesday Steven Grant gave a talk at Wind in Grass. Here is the text of his story, both the koan version and the fuller, narrative version:
Book of Serenity Case 86: Linji’s Great Enlightenment
Linji asked Huangbo, “What is the clearly manifested essence of the
buddhadharma?” Huangbo hit him. This happened three times.
Linji then took his leave and went to see Dayu. Dayu asked, “Where
have you come from?”
Linji said, “From Huangbo.”
"What did Huangbo have to say?”
“I asked him three times, ‘What is the clearly manifested essence of
Buddhadharma?’ and I got his stick three times. I don’t know if I was
in error or not.”
“Huangbo was such an old grandmother; he completely exhausted himself for
your sake. Then you come here and ask if you were in error or not.”
With these words, Linji had great enlightenment.
Lin chi came to Huangpo and for three years he just sat in the
assembly and he never even
asked for an interview. He just sat and followed along. He did
everything with a very soft, fluid mind. He didn't resist or push
himself forward or hold back. He just followed the circumstances and
he was considered to be unusual. Wansong says: `
It seems to me that Huangpo could hardly have allowed people not to
ask about things, yet Lin chi was there for three years, and he was
allowed not to ask about things. This was because his capacity was so
unusual and he was different.
After three years the head of the temple, Muzhou, said, "Why don't you
go and ask something of the teacher?"
Lin chi said, "I don't know what to ask." (I don't know.)
The head of the temple said, "Why don't you ask him what is the true
essential great meaning of Buddha's teaching?"
So he said, "Okay, I'll do it." He went along and said, "What's the
true essential great meaning of Buddha's teaching?", and Huangpo hit
him. He went back again and asked the same question, and he didn't
understand. So Huangpo hit him again, and a third time and he hit him
Lin chi went to the head monk and said, "I do not understand Huangpo's
teaching. My karma, perhaps, does not belong to this place. I think
I probably should leave and go and study at another temple."
Muzhou said, "That's okay, but go and see the teacher before you
leave." Muzhou went and told Huangpo, "This person has some ability
and he's planning to leave. I just thought I'd let you know."
Lin chi comes into Huangpo who says, "Why don't you go to Dayu?", who
was a teacher down the road. XLin chi says, "All right. If you
tell me, I'll do it." He'll do anything for the dharma, and he goes to
Dayu says, "Where have you come from?"
He says, "from Huangpo."
Dayu says, "What did Huangpo say?"
Lin chi says, "Three times I asked about the truly essential great
meaning of the buddhist teaching, and three times he hit me with a
stick. I don't know if I was at fault or not."
Dayu said, "Huangpo was as kind as a grandmother. He did his utmost
for you, and still you come and ask me if there is any fault or not!?"
Lin chi was greatly enlightened at these words. Immediately after
that he said, "Oh, there's nothing much to Huangpo's Buddhism after
Dayu said, "You bedwetting devil! You just asked if you had any error
or not, and now you say there's not much to Huangpo's Buddhism? How
much is this?", and he grabbed him and said, "Speak! Speak!"
Lin chi hit him three times.
Dayu let him go and said, "I think your teacher must be Huangpo. It's
got nothing to do with me." He sent him back.
Lin chi came back to Huangpo, and Huangpo said, "Coming and going over
and over. When will it ever end?"
Lin chi said, "It's just because you are so kind." Then he told the
story of what happened. Huangpo said, "Dayu's too talkative. Wait til
I see him. I'll hit him myself."
Lin chi said, "Why talk about waiting to see him? How about right
now?", and he hit his teacher.
Huangpo laughed, "This lunatic comes in to grab the tiger's whiskers."
Lin chi shouted, "Ha!"
Huangpo said, "Attendant take this madman into the meditation hall."
That's Lin chi's story.
Steven asked everyone to sit with thanks for someone who had cared for them in the past. As we walked, he asked us to thank the person who cut the boards for the flooring we walked on, the people who installed the windows that let the light in, the bus driver who got us here, the crews that laid the road, the weaver who made the altar cloth, etc...
“A Course on Koans” is the delusion-riddled work of Chris Kufu (“Wind in the Void”) Wilson, who began practicing Zen in 1967. He regards Taizan Maezumi, Robert Aitken, and David Weinstein as his root teachers. Each of them pecked at his shell until he “completed” the never-ending koan curriculum of the Harada-Yasutani lineage.
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